Local Connection: Hanohano Controversy

Local Connection: Hanohano Controversy

By: Rick Blangiardi

One of the great things about Hawaii is that it has such great racial diversity.  That's why it was most unfortunate to learn about the following incident.

Almost a year ago, State Rep. Faye Hanohano had to issue an apology for remarks she made after being upset that artwork placed inside her state office did not include the work of native Hawaiian artists.

She had used derogatory words to refer to Japanese, Chinese and Caucasian artists but later acknowledged her mistakes from the house floor.

She took full responsibility, saying it would never happen again.

But it has happened again.

She berated a Caucasian HPU student recently at a committee hearing about a bill to protect sharks and rays.  In all, the encounter was "disparaging" to many - not just the HPU student.

To make matters worse, the director of the department of the land and natural resources said Hanohano treated his staff in a "racially discriminatory manner that was inappropriate and abusive in authority."

The head of the department, William Aila, who like Hanohano is native Hawaiian, said she implied that one of his staffers was responsible for genocide, complained that malahini, or newcomers, were making too many policy decisions and often spoke Hawaiian to them, knowing they couldn't understand what she was saying.

Hanohano, who represents Hawaiian acres, Pahoa and Kalapana, is no doubt proud of her Hawaiian heritage, as she should be, and she is passionate about perpetuating its cultures and traditions - we especially support that position.

But she should not have to be reminded that people are attracted to Hawaii because of its inclusive aloha spirit, and that discrimination, wherever it comes from, is just plain wrong.

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